Saks Fifth Avenue is an american luxury department store owned by the oldest commercial corporation in North america, the Hudson's Bay Company. Its main flagship store is located on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City.Saks Fifth Avenue is the successor of a business founded by Andrew Saks in 1867 and incorporated in New York in 1902 as Saks & Company. Saks died in 1912, and in 1923 Saks & Co. merged with Gimbel Brothers, Inc., which was owned by a cousin of Horace Saks, Bernard Gimbel, operating as a separate autonomous subsidiary. On September 15, 1924, Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City, with a full-block avenue frontage south of St. Patrick's Cathedral, facing what would become Rockefeller Center. The architects were Starrett & van Vleck, who developed a reticent, genteel Anglophile classicizing facade similar to their Gimbels Department Store in Pittsburgh (1914).
When Bernard's brother, Adam Gimbel, became president of Saks Fifth Avenue in 1926 after Horace Saks's sudden passing, the company expanded, opening seasonal resort branches in Palm Beach, Florida and Southampton, New York, in 1928. The first full-line year-round Saks store opened in Chicago, in 1929, followed by another resort store in Miami Beach, Florida. In 1938, Saks expanded to the West Coast, opening in Beverly Hills, California. By the end of the 1930s, Saks Fifth Avenue had a total of 10 stores, including resort locations such as Sun Valley, Idaho, Mount Stowe, and Newport, Rhode Island. More full-line stores followed with Detroit, Michigan, in 1940 and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1949. In Downtown Pittsburgh, the company moved to its own freestanding location approximately one block from its former home on the fourth floor in the downtown Gimbel's flagship. The San Francisco location opened in 1952, competing locally with I. Magnin. BATUS Inc. acquired Gimbel Bros., Inc. and its Saks Fifth Avenue subsidiary in 1973 as part of its diversification strategy. More expansion followed from the 1960s through the 1990s including the Midwest, and the South, particularly in Texas. In 1990, BATUS sold Saks to Investcorp S.A., which took Saks public in 1996 as Saks Holdings, Inc.
In 1990, 'Saks Off 5th' was launched, an outlet store offshoot of the main brand, with 107 stores worldwide by 2016.
In 1998, Proffitt's, Inc. the parent company of Proffitt's and other department stores, acquired Saks Holdings Inc. Upon completing the acquisition, Proffitt's, Inc. changed its name to Saks, Inc.
Since 2000 Saks has opened international locations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and Mexico City.
In August 2007, the United States Postal Service began an experimental program selling the plus zip code extension to businesses. The first company to do so was Saks Fifth Avenue, which received the zip code of 10022-7463 ('SHOE'); for the eighth-floor shoe department in its flagship Fifth Avenue store.
During the 2007-2009 recession, Saks Fifth Avenue had to close some stores and to cut prices and profit margins, thus according to Reuters 'training shoppers to expect discounts. It took three years before it could start selling at closer to full price'. In the following years, the company closed stores in locations including Orange County (2010), Denver (2011), Pittsburgh (2012, despite local efforts to save it), Chicago (2012/13) and in June 2013 its last Dallas store to implement the 'strategy of employing our resources in our most productive locations'.
As of 2013, the New York flagship store, whose real estate value was estimated between $800 million and over $1 billion at the time, generated around 20% of Saks' annual sales at $620 million, with other stores being less profitable according to analysts.
On July 29, 2013, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), owner of the competing chain Lord & Taylor, announced it would acquire Saks Fifth Avenue's parent company for US$2.9 billion. Plans called for up to seven Saks Fifth Avenues to open in major Canadian markets. Expansion into Canada is expected to compete with Canadian Holt Renfrew chain and challenge Nordstrom's expansion into Canada, which began in summer 2014 with the opening of a Nordstrom store in Calgary. In January 2014, HBC announced the first Saks store in Canada would occupy 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) in its flagship Queen Street building in downtown Toronto, connected to the Toronto Eaton Centre via sky bridge. The store opened in February 2016 with a second Toronto area location in the Sherway Gardens shopping center opening in spring 2016.
On January 6, 2014, Marigay McKee, previously Chief Merchant at Harrods, became president of Saks Fifth Avenue. She stepped down 15 months later on April 2, 2015, and was replaced by Marc Metrick, a former executive at Saks’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay.
Starting in 2015 Saks began a $250 million, three-year restoration of its Fifth Avenue flagship store. In the summer of 2015, it was announced that Saks will debut a new location in Greenwich, Connecticut. In the fall of 2015, Saks was planning to replace its existing store at the Houston Galleria with a new store.
In February 2016, it opened its first Canadian store, at the corner of Queen Street West and Yonge Street in Toronto, in the Hudson's Bay flagship store. Saks opened their second New York full line store at Brookfield Place near the World Trade Center on September 9, 2016.
In February 2017, Saks was reported to be in advanced talks with Indian retailer Aditya Birla Fashion Retail Ltd. to open two stores in India. The stores are expected to be located at Aerocity in Delhi, and the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.In September 2017, Saks Fifth Avenue would be introducing new futuristic salon concept at stores through a partnership with the Warren Tricomi.In the same month Saks Fifth Avenue was acquired by Irish tourism campaign.In 2005, vendors filed against Saks alleging unlawful chargebacks. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated the complaint for years and, according to the New York Times, 'exposed a tangle of illicit tactics that let Saks... keep money it owed to clothing makers', inflating Saks' yearly earnings up to 43% and abusively collecting around $30 million from suppliers over seven years. Saks settled with the SEC in 2007, after firing three or more executives involved in the fraudulent activities.
In 2014, Saks fired transgender employee Leyth Jamal after she was allegedly 'belittled by coworkers, forced to use the men's room and repeatedly referred to by male pronouns (he and him)'. After Jamal submitted a lawsuit for unfair dismissal, the company stated in a motion to dismiss that 'it is well settled that transsexuals are not protected by Title VII.' In a court filing, the United States Department of Justice rebuked Saks' argument, stating that 'discrimination against an individual based on gender identity is discrimination because of sex.' The company was removed from the Human Rights Campaign's list of 'allies' during the controversy. The lawsuit was later settled amicably, without disclosing the terms of the settlement.